Indian boy who created Covid-19 tool among Apple student challenge winners
Apple on Tuesday announced 350 winners of its annual WWDC Swift Student Challenge from 41 different countries and regions, including Palash Taneja who designed a Swift playground that teaches coding while simulating how a pandemic moves through a population.
For his Swift Student Challenge submission this year, created against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, 19-year-old Taneja who grew up in New Delhi designed a Swift playground that also shows how precautions such as social distancing and masks can help slow infection rates.
He created it to help educate young people, after he saw others not taking warnings seriously.
“I really enjoy working with children, and I think education is one of the things that can create the biggest impact in someone’s life, especially someone in a developing country,” said Taneja.
In India, while still a teenager, he volunteered teaching English and math at a school for students whose families couldn’t afford to pay tuition.
Before he left for college in the US, he created a programme that translates popular online education videos into roughly 40 languages, so that children who don’t have physical access to quality education can learn on the web.
Four years ago, Taneja contracted a severe case of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus that left him hospitalised.
“That whole experience of two to three months of suffering — I think that really inspired me to learn programming and to use it as a problem-solving tool,” said Taneja who just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin.
He went on to create a web-based tool that uses machine learning to predict how mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever would spread.
The 350 students were chosen based on their original Swift playground submission, part of Apple’s annual WWDC student challenge, which recognises and celebrates the next generation of coders and creators.
The Apple 2020 Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off on June 22 in a new virtual format and a global community of 23 million developers will have the opportunity to join from around the world for free through the Apple Developer app and the Apple Developer website.
Now in its 31st year, WWDC20 will bring together the largest group of innovators and entrepreneurs ever assembled to connect, share, and create.